“He has Trump’s strength on the issues without all the baggage.”
This has become of the standard talking points used by those who support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination over Donald Trump.
While neither Trump or DeSantis is perfect, and both have flaws that make them far from the idealized superheroes their most die-hard cheerleaders would like us to believe they are, there is something disingenuous about the “baggage” argument so many on DeSantis’ side are quick to throw at Trump.
What do they even mean by “baggage?”
For some, it means his abrasive personality; his tendency to sling personal attacks at his rivals — attacks that can come across as crass or childish.
If that’s what they mean by baggage, well, some people just naturally rub others the wrong way and there’s nothing that can be done about it. We’re all attracted to certain personalities and repulsed by others, and no one is the same in this regard.
So if someone just has an inherent distaste for Trump’s brash way of being, that’s understandable — but it shouldn’t be confused with whether the individual in question is or isn’t competent. Gen. George Patton rubbed some people the wrong way, but that did not take away from his genius as a military commander.
Moreover, while some may not like Trump’s penchant for slinging mud, such detractors should realize that he doesn’t do it just because, but as a tactic — a tactic he uses because it works.
Remember the debates leading up to the 2016 Republican primary. Those who hated Trump saw him as immature and childish with his stage “antics.” But it was those “antics” that allowed him to shoot down Republican competitors who were better funded and more experienced in politics.
Extrapolating that to this race, some of DeSantis’ supporters chastise Trump for having been vociferously attacking DeSantis for so long. Many asked, “Why is he attacking DeSantis if DeSantis isn’t even running yet?”
Yet it was clear that DeSantis was laying the groundwork for a presidential bid, traveling the country, fresh off the heels of his gubernatorial reelection, in a shadow campaign under the guise of a book tour (Florida law would have prevented him from running for president while still serving as governor, but he conveniently got the state Legislature to change the law for him right before he filed). Everyone could see DeSantis’ candidacy was inevitable, which is why Trump lobbed attacks at him preemptively.
But there’s more to the “baggage” argument. What many mean when they use that line of attack is that Trump has been too viciously attacked by the establishment. There’s the indictment. The impeachments. The supposed 2020 loss.
But doesn’t calling all of that “baggage” merely give credence to the Left — the very people all Republicans, including DeSantis, are fighting against?
After all, most Republicans acknowledge that the Stormy Daniels “hush money”-related indictment is a Deep State hit. So why should that be taken as “baggage?” The same can be said for those who point to Trump’s “loss” in 2020. Was that not also the work of the Deep State?
By using those things as negatives against Trump, DeSantis’ supporters are siding with the Left, agreeing with them that there was no voter fraud and that Soros DA Alvin Bragg has a legitimate case against Trump.
Do we really want to abandon a candidate because he is being attacked by the Deep State? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? If the Deep State so desperately wants to take someone out, isn’t it because they believe he poses a threat to them? How will we get anywhere if we jump ship when the going gets rough? Aren’t DeSantis’ people basically saying that “we should go with the candidate the Deep State likes most, otherwise they won’t let him win”?
Because if DeSantis is genuinely as opposed to the Deep State as Trump is, then isn’t it only to be expected that he will be attacked just as much eventually?
One thing is for certain: It’s going to be a heated race.
Despite the support DeSantis has drummed up among voters and the donor class, the race is still Trump’s to lose.
DeSantis currently fills the role that Ted Cruz did in 2016. He is an intelligent Harvard man and lawyer with many years of experience in government. He is a strong conservative who can pull in a significant chunk of the base. But he lacks the charisma and personal magnetism to compete with Trump on the public stage.
Trump still has his base, which will get him through the primary. Many DeSantis supporters say they voted for Trump and have now jumped ship. But did they vote for him in the 2016 primary?
Many of the “ex-Trumpers” who are now with DeSantis didn’t like him in 2016 either and supported someone else then, and only sided with Trump after he clinched the nomination, but never really liked him to begin with. Just as in 2016, Trump has enough of a base in the GOP to win the nomination without them.
At the end of the day, Trump loyalists don’t care about the “baggage” because it is precisely that “baggage” that makes him the right candidate. In their eyes, the Deep State’s attacks on 45 prove he is the one man who really challenges their power.